GREEN The old Ohio Military Museum, formerly in Massillon at 316 Lincoln Way East, has been absorbed the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Museum in Green. The official dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony took place Aug. 25 during a day-long event. Also on hand, in addition to the normal aircraft displays, were around a dozen restored military vehicles, including an M5 Stuart light tank, several M-3 halftracks, an M-20 armored car, several Jeeps and an M-114 reconnaissance vehicle.
The Ohio Military Museum (OMM) opened in 1983 in Massillon. It was forced to close its doors in October 2015 due to both an aging and declining membership. Prior to its final days, the museum began negotiations with MAPS in 2014 to find a home for the numerous exhibits housed at the museum. An agreement was reached and, after the museum closed, the artifacts were moved to the MAPS facility in Green by volunteers from both museums.
"There was no way I wanted to let this museum leave the area," said MAPS Director Kim Kovesci at the dedication. "The addition of the OMM has increased our documentation of military history back to the Civil War. It has made MAPS a better museum."
The OMM Had 13 permanent exhibits, 12 Medal of Honor displays, and the The Fallen Features memorial to Ohioans who have died in the war on terror. That exhibit has been on display for more than a year at the museum on the main hangar floor. The Medal of Honor exhibit and 77 other displays were put into storage until a new room could be renovated on the second floor to house it. There are other displays that will rotate with the current exhibits. That was the portion of the museum that was dedicated on Saturday.
The new room involved a complete renovation of the old National Guard room and included new lights, cases, heating and air conditioning, and environmental controls to help safeguard the exhibits. Funds for this came from a grant from the Ward J. and Joy A, Timken Foundation. Access to the second floor display required the installation of an elevator and safety improvements on the balcony. The elevator was installed by Canton Elevator through a grant from the Timken Foundation. Helping out with the renovation were students from the Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC), who did most of the refinishing of the room under supervision of MAPS volunteers.
The various exhibits in the display trace Ohio military history starting with the Civil War. A major exhibit is the one dealing with Andrews Raid, better known as the Great Locomotive Chase, which was made into a movie by Disney Studios in 1956. The volunteers who took part in the raid were from three Ohio regiments - the 2nd, 21st, and 33rd Ohio infantry. While the raid failed and the raiders were captured - some to later be executed as spies - eight were able to escape and make it back to Union lines. Some of these men were among the first to receive the new Medal of Honor, and eventually all but the two civilians who took part in the raid received the medal. One of them, William Pittenger, was a resident of Massillon. Other displays spotlight the courage and valor of Ohio servicemen in all the conflicts since the Civil War up to the present time.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony in the morning, the dedication program began with a musical interlude by the Massillon band Moonlight Serenade playing popular music from the 1950s and 60s. Afterward, Rusty Peine gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Alligence. Gretchen Boyea, granddaughter of MAPS members Jan and Jim Boyea, then gave a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." Ohio Society of Military History Board member Terry Roan gave an overview of how the two museums came together to work out the details of the merger. Brook Anderson discussed the exhibit honoring the 100th anniversary of the US entrance into World War I. MAPS Director Kim Kovesci closed this portion of the program with comments regarding the exhibit and thanks to all the people who were involved in the project.
The new exhibit is on the second floor of the main hangar and is open during normal museum hours. It is handicap accessible. For further information on the museum, visit www.mapsairmuseum.org or call 330-896-6332.